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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

with these disadvantages, and Slateford, so to speak,
"made cheerful conversation".

But by night they lost control and the hospital
became sepulchral and oppressive with saturations of
war experience. One lay awake and listened to feet
padding along passages which smelt of stale cigarette-
smoke; for the nurses couldn't prevent insomnia-rid-
den officers from smoking half the night in their bed-
rooms, though the locks had been removed from all
doors. One became conscious that the place was full
of men whose slumbers were morbid and terrifying—
men muttering uneasily or suddenly crying out in
their sleep. Around me was that underworld of dreams
haunted by submerged memories of warfare and its
intolerable shocks and self-lacerating failures to
achieve the impossible. By daylight each mind was a
sort of aquarium for the psychopath to study. In the
daytime, sitting in a sunny room, a man could discuss
his psycho-neurotic symptoms with his doctor, who
could diagnose phobias and conflicts and formulate
them in scientific terminology. Significant dreams
could be noted down, and Rivers could try to remove
repressions. But by night each man was back in his
doomed sector of a horror-stricken Front Line, where
the panic and stampede of some ghastly experience
was re-enacted among the livid faces of the dead. No
doctor could save him then, when he became the
lonely victim of his dream disasters and delusions.

Shell-shock. How many a brief bombardment had
its long-delayed after-effect in the minds of these sur-
vivors, many of whom had looked at their companions
and laughed while inferno did its best to destroy them.
Not then was their evil hour, but now; now, in the
sweating suffocation of nightmare, in paralysis of
limbs, in the stammering of dislocated speech. Worst